POMS Reference

VB 00210: Claims Development Procedures

BASIC (04-00)

A. Background

Entitlement to SVB, unlike any other benefit program SSA administers, is generally a two-step process. The claimant must first meet all the requirements for qualification listed in VB 00102.001. If the field office (FO) determines that the veteran meets all the requirements for qualification for SVB, it notifies the claimant of the fact. The FO also notifies the claimant that he/she must establish residence outside the United States (US ) (see VB 00210.001B) within four calendar months after the date of the notice of qualification.

Therefore, eliciting evidence sufficient to establish entitlement to SVB can involve both domestic and foreign contacts, depending on the country of residence and source of evidence. Since SSA does not maintain FOs outside the US, it will be necessary to request the services of the US Federal Benefits Units (FBUs).

B. Definition

The United States: the 50 States, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands.

C. Procedure — Developing SVB Claim-Claimant or Source of Evidence is Outside the US

1. General

Do not make direct mail contact with individuals outside the US other than claimants, beneficiaries, legal guardians or legal representatives; i.e., do not write directly to civil authorities, record-keeping agencies, etc. For title VIII claims development purposes , Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa are not considered to be outside the US.

When it is necessary to elicit evidence to establish one or more qualification requirements or to establish residence outside the US (see VB 00102.001), write directly to the claimant or make contact through an FBU, depending on where the claimant lives or the source of the evidence. When the claimant resides in the Philippines, see VB 00210.001C.2.

2. Claimant is in the Philippines

Servicing FBU in Manila will contact residents by telephone, direct mail, or in person.

3. Claimant is in Puerto Rico or the US Territories

Servicing SSA FOs will contact residents by telephone, direct mail, or in person.

4. Claimant is in Canada

Servicing SSA FOs will contact Canadian residents by telephone, direct mail, or in person (as explained in GN 00905.100).

5. Claimant is in Mexico

Make all contacts with claimants, etc., in Mexico through the FBU. Addresses for the FBUs may be found in GN 00307.670D.2. or FOs may access TRIDE for FBU addresses and/or fax numbers.

Make requests for FBU assistance detailed and specific since, generally speaking, FBU personnel have had only limited training in SSA matters. Diary request for 60 days. If the FBU has not replied within that period, fax a copy of the original letter to SSA , Office of International Programs, at 410-966-7025. SSA will follow up with the FBU.

6. Claimants in All Other Countries

Handle contacts with claimants, etc., in other countries as follows:

  1. Contact claimants in all other countries (see VB 00210.001C.6.b. for exceptions) through direct mail. If the claimant needs special assistance or contact is to be with a third party, request the assistance of an FBU as in VB 00210.001C.5.

  2. Some countries require special procedures for SSA to use when contacting individuals or third parties. See GN 00905.100 for a list of countries and their procedures. Send a detailed letter to the State Department as in VB 00210.001C.5. Do not send any requests for assistance directly to the Office of International Operations.

The State Department does not maintain FBUs in North Korea or Iraq.

D. Procedure -- Developing SVB Claim-Claimant or Source of Evidence is in the US

Request evidence under the normal development procedures (see GN 00900.000).